Pakistan - Contents

The Karakorum Highway Pakistan - 029
Crossing the border from China
The Karakorum Highway
Rebuilding the Karakorum

Suspension Bridge Walk
The Three Glacier Walk
The Karamabad Sisters and Hospitality

Irrigation creates life
The Baltit Fort
Lady's Finger Mountain Pakistan - 055

Buying Local Clothes
Gilgit Shops
The Gilgit Polo Tournament
Mr Baig and the Medina Guest House

Fairy Meadows
Fairy Meadows and Nanga Parbat
Silhouettes at Nanga Parbat
High Dynamic Range Photography of Nanga Parbat
High Mountains Everywhere
Mohammed Nour at Fairy Meadows
Riding on the Minibus Roof

Gilgit to Chitral
Road Guide
Route Profile and Hotels Pakistan - 150
Part 1 - Riding up the valley
Part 2 - Climbing higher
Part 3 - Shandur Pass 
Part 4 - The Descent
Part 5 - The Friendliest People
Part 6 - Great Light
Part 7 - More HDR Photography

The Kalasha Valleys
The Kalash People
Pressure on Kalasha Culture
Kalasha Houses 
Stuck in the Land of the Kalasha Pakistan - 221
Crossing the Lowari Pass

Lahore & The Twin Cities 
National Press Article
Pakistan - India Border Ceremony
Sufi Night in Lahore
Lahore Fort and the Badshahi Mosque

Pakistani Trucks
Gilgit Polo Tournament
Pakistan - India Border Ceremony
Sufi Night Pakistan - 174

People we met 
The Karamabad Sisters
Alex, Alby and their truck
Mohammed Nour at Fairy Meadows
The Kalasha People
Mr Baig at the Medina Guest House

Our Route and Cycling Guides
China - Pakistan Border Road Guide
Route throught the Karakorum in Pakistan
Route through China, Pakistan and India
Gilgit to Chitral Road Guide
Gilgit to Chitral Profile and Hotels
Gilgit to Shandur Pass Map
Route Map from Lahore to Kathmandu

Getting a Pakistani Visa in HK
Getting a Pakistani visa and onward travel


Crazy Sufi night in Lahore

When someone told me that Sufi Night was held in the equivalent of a mosh pit (the crowded chaos at the front of a gig where everyone is squashed in and bounces around together) I didn't really believe them. But they were completely correct, it was absolute madness and a brilliant night.

Music from the night: Click preview to play it on this page

IMGA0007 (by Yodod)

There were maybe 500 people crowded into an open area between some buildings and a Sufi shrine, all sat next to each other closer than I could have imagined people could sit. Thursdays are also tourist night, so there is an area that we are led to, obviously full of people who had a good seat, who now have to be aggressively kicked out of the area and threatened with sticks to make them move. It doesn't help that everyone in the whole room is smoking huge joints and isn't inclined to move. Half the crowd is in a trance, the rest are passing around joints like there's no tomorrow.

IMGA0010 (by Yodod)

The 50 Pakistanis's who were sitting on the steps of the shrine in the tourist area were replaced by about 10 tourists all staying at Malik's guest house - 'The Regal Internet Inn'. He's well respected and his helper Niemet also did his best to make sure we were all OK. All over Lahore if we said we were staying with Malik people said he was a very good man and touched their heart, everyone saw him as their friend. The reason for all this chaos were the three drummers stood with huge drums, swirling around like dervishes (the original dervishes were the first Sufis) playing amazing rhythms and spinning on the spot while they did it. The most famous one is deaf (blue clothing) and can still keep time from all the vibrations.

IMGA0003 (by Yodod)

We stayed for about 4 hours and went home elated from the experience, if the first people to play acid house weren't inspired by Lahore's Sufi night I will be amazed. What made it even more strange was the transvestite's who regularly walked through the crowd and went into the shrines and then prayed for half an hour or so, while the music was going on. In such a crazy macho man world it seemed so incongruous to see 'gay men' dressed as women being able to walk around openly. Some are eunochs and live a very secretive life that William Dalrymple managed to find out a little about in 'City of Djinn's', they are respected and feared in Pakistan and India, yet are thought to bring good luck...........


Wagha border ceremony - Pakistan and India

Anyone who watched Michael Palin's 'Himalaya' will have seen the crazy border ceremony between Pakistan and India but nothing really prepares you for the spectacle of it.

On Sundays especially, thousands of people travel the 30km from Lahore (Pakistan) and Amritsar (India) to attend. It is like going to a football match...walking towards the stadium with announcements and the buzz of so many people all attending one event.

The whole nationalistic spectacle makes you laugh, smile, groan and despair...all in equal measure. It's great theatre, watching the crowd is almost as good as watching the stars - the soldiers. Two sets of people divided by a line that none of them would have chosen, shouting 'Pakistan....Super Power'!! and chanting at the Indian crowd behind a small dividing gate.


We're in the Pakistan National Press

On the way into Rawalpindi from Islamabad, we got stopped at some traffic lights by a reporter and his photographer. We pulled in and were then interviewed while a load of people gathered around to watch.

The next day we were in the paper and virtually our whole story was made up. The only thing they got right was our names and the fact that we started in Mongolia.

We were never scared, we never had 4 punctures. Don't believe what you read in the papers. Be a critical thinker!!!

Today we got asked to sign the article by the hotel owner who has mounted it on the wall in his office. Then another couple of local people came to see us and asked for us to sign their copy too. It was a bit embarassing, but very funny.


Cycling in Pakistan - Gilgit to Chitral - Part 5 - The friendliest people

All the way from Gilgit we have been constantly harassed in the nicest possible way by the lovely people on the side of the road wanting us to stop for 'Chai' (tea), to take their photograph, to sit and talk to them, to give them 'one pen, one pen', or more annoyingly to walk beside us and stare as we labour up a steep hill, struggling to go in a straight line and to get enough oxygen into our lungs.

We can hardly blame them, not many tourists come this way and any that do are packed inside the NATCO bus or in Jeeps insulated from the people in the villages. We are today's entertainment. If anyone wants to practice their English, we're a great opportunity...
'Hello, How are you?'; 'What is your name?'; What is your religion?'; What is your village name?'; 'Photo,photo, photo?'; 'Green Chilli!' (all that one little boy could say in English)

We would often meet large groups of children walking huge distances to get home from school, anxious to interact with the strange foreigners and their loaded bicycles. Some were shy, others desperate to show off their English skills. Many of the children go to Government schools, (8 Rupees/month – $0.1) but others are lucky enough to go to the Aga Khan English Medium Schools (350R/month - $5) and speak superb English for their age.

Because some of Northern Areas isn't officially part of Pakistan, but part of the disputed Kashmir, the local people rely on the Aga Khan to build bridges, schools and medical centres, put pipes in for drinking water and build irrigation channels, as they receive very little from the Pakistani government. His picture is everywhere and the prowess in English of so many of the children is testament to the success of his many schemes in the area. Amazingly his schools are also co-educational which may help explain the more relaxed relationships between men and women in the countryside.

Women would frequently talk to us and many spoke better English than their husbands, and it was almost liberating to see them walking alone and unveiled, shaking hands with men from their village, something we would never see in towns.

Many people wanted us to take their pictures and then send them copies when we reached a larger town, our notebook is now full of addresses. Some people wouldn't even want the photos sent to them, they just wanted the interaction and to see themselves on the screen of our cameras. Often if we stopped to take a picture of something, groups of men would line up beside it to add interest, or ask for us to take photographs of the whole family. Children nearly always got really excited as we arrived, and thanks to well intentioned NGOs, we would hear the chant of 'pen, pen, pen, pen' echoing round the terraces above us.

One other thing that amazed us was the number of children with pale skin and red hair, and others with amazingly blue eyes, so unlike the rest of the population of Pakistan.

Here's a slideshow of some of the people we met:


Amazing Decoration on Pakistani trucks

All trucks in Pakistan are decorated like this and everyone decorates even their motorbikes and tractors. We've heard about a street in Lahore where you can get your pushbike decorated. im still trying to make up my mind whether to get mine done:

This post is for Ari in New Zealand. Hi from Simon and Isabelle.
Did you get our postcard?


Alex, Alby and their Mini-truck!!

The big polo tournament in Gilgit

We were lucky enough to be in Gilgit during the annual Gilgit Polo competition.

With so many military and police in the towns of the Northern Areas there are lots of well organised teams that enter this annual competition. It lasts for one week from November the 1st and as tourists we got to sit in the VIP section to watch the opening ceremony and the first exhibition game between the Gilgit Police B team and the Gilgit Scouts B team.

Every town in the Northern areas has a Polo ground which consists of a long thin field surrounded by high walls an banked concrete seating or steps.

The whole atmosphere was fantastic and involved musicians, singers, dancers, flag carrying, each team parading past the VIP guests (us), lots of saluting and also during the game quite a bit of angry appealing to the umpire concerning the rules.

The Police won 9-2

Here's some photos of the whole spectacular:

Mr Baig at the Madina Guest House in Gilgit